Andy Downing for RedEye
12:20 PM CST, February 17, 2013
While "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" has certainly made an effective tourism campaign, Imagine Dragons refrained from adopting the slogan as a band mantra.
Since forming in 2008, the Las Vegas quartet has logged countless hours on the road, and the hard work is beginning to pay off. The rockers' full-length debut, "Night Visions," landed at number two on the Billboard 200, while the band's now-ubiquitous single "It's Time" has appeared everywhere from ESPN's Wimbledon coverage to an episode of "Glee."
Even so, frontman and Vegas native Dan Reynolds doesn't appear to be suffering from an overinflated ego.
"None of us were Mr. Popular in high school," he said from a Valentine's Day tour stop in Atlanta, "So I'd say we're all a little bit on the nerdy side."
In a recent phone interview, the 25-year-old singer discussed the first time he heard Imagine Dragons on the radio, the night the band played to an empty "Jimmy Fallon" studio and how Wesley Snipes got it wrong.
You were born and raised in Las Vegas. What's the biggest misconception people have about the city?
Oh, there's so many. People think it's just the Strip and that's all there is to Vegas. But there's a whole other side to it. There's a real arts community and lots of cool venues to play at that are off the Strip, like the Beauty Bar and the Bunkhouse.
At the same time, you recorded "Night Visions" at a studio in the Palms Casino.
Yeah, that's one of our favorite studios. You have to walk through the casino to even get to it. With all the noise and the slot machines and the lights and the energy, the studio just seemed like the right place to record. It felt more like home to us than a cabin in the woods or something.
Are you much of a gambler then? Or, growing up in Vegas, did you learn the house always wins?
Exactly. I've seen too many people lose their money over the years. Ben [McKee], our bass player, is ridiculously lucky. He doesn't gamble a lot, but when he does he wins. He doesn't even have any formula. He just bets on red.
But I thought Wesley Snipes said to always bet on black?
[Laughs] I know, right? Ben just has his own little thing going for him. But I've never seen him lose. Not even one round.
Have you considered starting a blood feud with the Killers? Or is the town big enough for the both of you?
[Laughs] We don't really know ’em, so maybe we'll fistfight. No, no, the Killers are great. They were torchbearers for Vegas, and really put the city on the map. They showed a band could come out of Vegas, and we definitely have a lot of respect for them.
At this point you've performed on Leno, Kimmel, Fallon and Conan, and you're scheduled to appear on Letterman. Did you grow up obsessed with late-night TV?
I wouldn't say obsessed, but like any kid I grew up thinking, "Maybe someday I'll be in a band that performs on 'Late Night.' " But that was always just a dream. You don't tell people you want to be in a band or they laugh at you. It's like saying you're going to be in the NFL or you're going to be a famous actor. "Yeah, sure you are."
Which show had the best green room spread?
Fallon really treated us well. We were there the day Hurricane Sandy hit, and we played to an empty studio after they turned away the entire audience. Even Jimmy did his whole bit to an empty studio, which was pretty funny and legendary.
Do you remember the first time you heard yourself on the radio?
Yeah, we were in the car driving into California. We were in the middle of nowhere between Vegas and Los Angeles, and we were just enough into the radio atmosphere of L.A. to barely hear our song ["It's Time"] through the static. I remember we started burning rubber and going as fast as we could to try and get through that boundary so we could hear the music. All of us were in the car, like, "Wow, this is insane!"
In the past year that song has appeared everywhere from movie trailers to sports telecasts. Are you like, "God, not again" when you hear it these days?
[Laughs] I hope there never comes a time when we're not blown away by the fact we're playing on a radio. It'd really be a sad day if that ever happens.
Imagine Dragons, 6 p.m. March 4-5 at House of Blues. $25.
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